The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993 Page: 258
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
strong action to preserve honor. Byrd's effort to spur anti-Union sen-
timent failed in Travis County, as a majority of the electorate voted
against secession in a February referendum; at the state level, however,
the secessionists handily defeated the Unionist followers of Governor
Houston.75 Byrd printed the poetry on Southern nationalism mostly
during the state campaign for secession; thus, while the secession crisis
certainly fits into a national political context, the distribution of the
poetry in the Gazette suggests a greater concern with state matters.
Newspaper poetry gives historians a chance to see what they rarely
find in the archives: the attitudes and concerns of ordinary people.
From this poetry, historians can speculate about the common values of
a community without having to rely solely on sparse diaries and letters.
In looking back on the 185os, many historians have focused on the
sectional conflict over slavery and the great men who participated in it.
The Gazette poetry indicates that Austinites admired these men, espe-
cially those who spoke eloquently and fought bravely; but Austinites
also admired women. Ideal women were valued for more than just
beauty and purity; they were essential to man's happiness, providing
quiet, comfort, support, and refuge from the anxiety-filled public
world. The poetry shows that at times its readers did think about the
sectional conflict, but more often ordinary Austinites thought instead
about the mosquitoes which bit them in the summertime, the rains
which often came too little or too much, or the ever-present danger of
debt; in short, about surviving in an unpredictable environment.
75Gage, "The Texas Road to Secession," 201-202, 207
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993, periodical, 1993; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101215/m1/302/: accessed April 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.